Pilot allows authors to make submitted abstracts instantly visible
UPDATE 11.03.14: Since this article was written, further Elsevier journals have joined the submitted abstracts pilot. They are:
To the editors of Atmospheric Environment, ensuring their readers could access research at the earliest possible stage was a top priority.
So, together with their Publishing Director, Bethan Keall, they found a novel solution – publishing the abstracts of recently submitted papers on the journal’s Elsevier.com homepage.
Atmospheric Environment’s co-Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Hanwant Singh, explained: “We knew that early transparency was something our readers really value – embarking on this pilot provided us with an excellent opportunity to ensure they receive it.”
According to Keall, the pilot reflects a broader move towards transparency within publishing. She believes the benefits of the pilot are manifold. “Not only do readers get to see research at an earlier stage, they get a feeling for new work on the horizon and can even benchmark their work against the featured abstracts. Potential authors can also better gauge the range and scope of the journal and assess if the journal is the right home for their research,” she said.
It is clear readers are embracing the initiative – since the pilot was launched in March last year, the recently submitted abstracts pod has consistently proved the most popular on Atmospheric Environment’s homepage.
The trial, which is operated on an ‘opt-in’ basis, is also proving popular with authors – in the last 10 months, 50 percent of the 2,549 authors who have submitted a paper to the journal have chosen to participate.
Dr. Singh, who leads a group of atmospheric scientists at the NASA Ames Research Center, said: “We have been offering this option for less than a year so that is quite a high opt-in rate. My hunch is that as word continues to spread, that figure will rise.”
Keall added: “It was very important to us that the project is driven by author choice – while many authors appreciate the opportunity to give their research greater visibility, there are always going to be occasions when research is just too novel or groundbreaking to be featured in this way.”
Keall regularly surveys authors using the RSS feed and recent feedback led to the corresponding author’s email address being featured alongside the abstract.
Dr. Singh said: “This is a really valuable addition and facilitates early interaction among researchers.”
How ‘Recently Submitted Abstracts’ works
As illustrated in the screenshot below, at the point of submission to Atmospheric Environment, authors are invited to choose whether they would like their abstract to be included – if they tick yes, an RSS feed picks up information exported from the Elsevier Editorial System (EES) and the abstract is included in a dedicated pod on Atmospheric Environment’s homepage. Articles rejected after the point of submission or peer review are removed from the RSS feed. Those that are accepted are transferred to appear as Articles in Press on ScienceDirect.
Dr. Singh would be happy to see the initiative rolled out to other journals. He added: “Long ago, journals used to send out a table of contents that contained the titles of published articles. That didn’t provide you with enough information to understand what the paper contained. This is a big step forward.”
Keall is also looking into further expanding the service offered by the pilot. She said: “We currently offer researchers the opportunity to sign up for ScienceDirect text alerts, notifying them of any new, relevant content that is published. These help them be one of the first to hear about new developments. It would be interesting to see if we could offer that service for this pilot.”
In a recent edition of Elsevier’s Authors’ Update, readers were asked if they would like to see this rolled out to journals in their field – 80 percent of respondents said they would.
If you are interested in offering this for your journal, please contact Keall at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bethan Keall and Dr. Hanwant Singh were interviewed by Linda Willems, Editor-in-Chief, Editors' Update.